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Regina v. Faulkner

    Brief Fact Summary.

    Faulkner appealed a conviction of setting a cargo ship on fire when his only intentional act was to steal rum.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law.

    A defendant cannot be convicted for an accidental act that occurs in the process of committing a felony if the accidental act would have been a crime if done intentionally.

    Facts.

    Falkner accidentally burned down a cargo ship in the process of stealing rum that was stored in a cask. Faulkner was indicted and found guilty both for stealing the rum and setting the ship on fire. Faulkner appealed.

    Issue.

    Whether a defendant can be convicted for an accidental act that occurs in the process of committing a felony if the accidental act would have been a crime if done intentionally?

    Held.

    No. The judgment against Faulkner is quashed because holding a defendant liable for accidental acts is overbroad.

    Dissent.

    (Keogh, J.) Faulkner’s conviction should be affirmed because the judgment settled any issues of malice and intent.

    Concurrence.

    (Fitzgerald, J.) For a defendant to be held liable for an accidental act, the defendant must: (1) intentionally commit the act, (2) the act must result from the felony, and (3) the act is a foreseeable consequence of the felony. Faulkner didn’t intend to set the ship on fire, nor was the fire the result of stealing the rum and the issue of foreseeable consequence was not presented to the jury.

    (O’Brien, J.) The theory that Faulkner could have foreseen that a fire would result as a consequence of stealing the rum was never presented to the jury and is not consistent with the facts.


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